A Park In Peril – Another Deer Hunt Scheduled for Short Hills


Hunter snoozes and loses

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

The parks of Canada are available to all Canadians for their benefit, education and enjoyment, and all parks should be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of current and future generations. However, in about two weeks, the Ministry of Natural Resources will once again host the annual fishing derby at Marineland deer hunting at Short Hills Provincial Park, even though hunting is illegal at all other times. On the proposed dates of November 14, 15, 19, 20, 28, and the 29th, the Ministry will allow the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to break virtually all of the rules posted in the park for a ceremonial hunt.

Animal advocates, conservationists, and residents in area the do not believe that hunting is an appropriate activity for a provincial park. Hunting in the park is incompatible with the conservation goals of maintaining species as risk adjacent to areas such as the Golden Horseshoe, which are intensely developed. The Short Hills area contains some of the most extensive natural areas in the Golden Horseshoe, with the highest percentages of forest cover.

The park is part of an environmentally significant area known as the Fonthill Kame Moraine, home to shrubs and herbaceous species not found in other parts of Canada. The largest forest tracts and wetland areas also provide suitable habitat for breeding stock and locally rare birds, reptiles and amphibians. While the deer themselves are not an endangered species, the MNR seems to want the public at large to believe that the relatively small number of animals surveyed in the park are more damaging than climate change and need to be culled on an annual basis. Under the guise of “conservation,” the Ministry has made many unsubstantiated claims that these culls are beneficial to wildlife survival and the environment, which does not explain why there are rules for using the park under regular daily circumstances. According to the MNR themselves, more than 50 of the animals, plants, and lichens found Niagara parks are considered rare and are either threatened endangered. From a conservation biology standpoint, the wildlife in parks are not protected if it is permissible to shoot them.

One of the main objections to the hunt continues to be safety, since past experience has shown that periodically hunters do not adhere to the boundaries established by the MNR, or the Short Hills signboundaries are ambiguous. Prior meetings with the MNR along with Access-To-Information documents have made it abundantly clear that there has never been a signed or agreed-upon safety protocol. The MNR has not even made a quasi-legitimate attempt to limit the number of hunters in the park at any time. These same ATI requests clearly show that hunters breached the buffer zones outside the hunt area and that members of the public were in the park during the hunt.  Despite claims by the MNR that the hunters have never trespassed on private property adjacent to the park, the Ministry have resorted to paying a surveying company more than $3,000 to survey the boundary between private property and the park, another cost to be born by the taxpayers. The most serious accusation of lax security protocols involved unsecured firearms being transported outside of the immediate hunting area; these hunters mingled with hunt observers and crossed the road to their vehicles while their firearms were unencased. Haudenosaunee native Paul Williams, lawyer for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has stated that:

“…the Haudenosaunee law will only allow a hunt if it’s safe,” something he believes is possible using traditional methods. Williams has said that the 1990 Supreme Court decision (The Sparrow Ruling) upheld these rights and hunting can only be limited by a provincial law that is purely aimed at safety. The Supreme Court Decision in R. v. Sparrow was the first Supreme Court of Canada decision which applied s. 35, of the Constitution Act,  which states  that “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” In the foundational Sparrow ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that First Nations have an Aboriginal right, as defined in the Constitution, to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes and that right takes priority over all others, after conservation and safety. The court also ruled that an aboriginal right is not an absolute right and that governments may encroach upon this if they show a compelling and substantial legislative objective while respecting their fiduciary relationship towards the aboriginal people. The result of this decision is, on the one hand, that the aboriginal peoples have priority when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, or gathering for food purposes and on the other hand, that governments can regulate these activities for wildlife conservation or public safety reasons.

Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, recently appeared before the Niagara Police Board to address the observations that some hunters carried unencased firearms outside the park in areas within the jurisdiction of the Niagara Regional Police.  Liz formally presented this information with the purpose of having any subsequent violations addressed by the NRP, since public safety is ostensibly the goal of all involved with the hunt. What’s surprising is that both the MNR and the Niagara Regional Police, despite photographing and videotaping all aspects of the protest and the hunters entering and departing the Pelham Rd. entrance of the park, no one seemed to notice this security breach, which is in contravention of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Read Liz White’s letter to Niagara Regional Police Services Board below:

Public interest measures have to take precedence over hunting rights, since the park is not the only location where hunting for aboriginal ceremonial purposes can take place. Already, a substantial number of hectares of public land in Ontario are available for hunting. Numerous other more remote areas, not boundaried by private property, were proposed and are, by most accounts, suitable alternatives to hunting semi-tame deer in a public park located in an ecologically sensitive area. Parks are seen as peaceful getaways to appreciate and value nature – not places for SUVs,  ATVs,  and certainly not unsecured firearms.


Call to Action:

Please write to:

Deb Morton, Executive Director

Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board

68 Church Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3C6

Office: (905) 688-3911 x5170 / Mobile: 905-329-7814 / Fax: (905) 688-0036

Email: deb.morton@niagarapolice.ca

About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

9 responses »

  1. Thank you Heather for your informative post. The biggest safety concern I have with respect to this hunt involves Camp Wetaskiwin, a BoyScout Camp located within the Short Hills Park boundaries. I have confirmed that again this year it will be filled with children campers sent there by their unwitting parents who have no idea that a deer hunt with high powered cross bows is occurring near their kids. If I presented to an entrance to SHP, MNR and Police would try to prevent me from entering “for my own safety”; children arent afforded the same consideration. Contact Melanie Milczynski, Ontario Parks Southwest Zone Manager at 519-873-4616 to voice your opposition to hunting in the Short Hills Park.

    • Interestingly, Mickey McPherson, Commissioner, Battlefields Council, Scouts Canada sent me the following message: “Hello Sheila, I am writing to share that I have reversed my previous decision to provide you with a copy of a redacted letter sent to the Scouting community who are visiting camp while the deer hunt takes place in neighbouring Short Hills Provincial Park.” I explained I was a children’s nurse and gave him access to check my credentials at my place of employment and my Registering body.
      Hmmmm. Im thinking that after 2 days of digging, he realized that no such letter existed. For fear of seeming politically incorrect, Scouts are just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. What ever happened to doing the “right thing”?

  2. Pingback: Disclosed Short Hills Park Hunting Documents Continue To Disprove MNR Rhetoric | heatherclemenceau

  3. I like your comment that a provincial park is no place for hunting. Did you know that there are 128 provincial parks in Ontario where hunting is regulated? In 2013, over 70,000 deer were killed throughout those parks, as well as elk, moose, turkey and other birds, wolves and other mammals, and even reptiles and amphibians. Do your research. Also you should probably just shut down this whole blog.

    • If you don’t like this blog, I will give you your money back! Even if you object to my solidarity with the deer, do you not reject the cruelty experienced by all the other species I write about?

      Always like comments where the poster suggests that I do more research, when the objection has already been dealt with in the actual blog post itself. Quite aware that there is hunting in various tracts of Provincial Parks, and many of them are not backing onto homes nor do they experience objections from people in the vicinity. It’s a fact that access-to-information documents show that many alternatives to Short Hills were investigated but the hunters felt that some were “too remote” or there were already others hunting there already.

      Since there are so many other alternatives, there should be no problem finding a park to hunt where the nearby residents do not object or the location is not “too remote.” Or perhaps there are parks where Lyme and CWD are a concern, and the hunters and the MNR can therefore find some justification for killing the deer.

      Hunting is not regulated in Short Hills – there are no limits on hunters in the park at any time, nor are there limits on deer that are killed. Because you know, that would constitute regulation.

      Get ready intersectionalist Hamilton trolls, More is coming.

  4. There is, in fact, no legitimate aboriginal or “treaty” right and the court decisions upholding the 1701 Nanfan need to be and will eventually be challenged as any historian will attest to; this is something the Haudenosaunee will try to avoid at all costs, even though they don’t mind keeping their lawyer shills on the payroll; if the fraudulent “rights” in Nanfan are overturned the implications will be felt far and wide and expose so many other extortion tactics of the Haudenosaunee that were and are being perpetrated in so many other areas such as Caledonia such as making wind farm deals, “reclaiming” housing developments already built or in progress, disrupting and halting hydro lines,etc. the list is endless; the utter hypocrisy and political dishonesty is also glaringly evident (for those who care to see it) in the fact that the Federal ministry in charge of aboriginal affairs DOES NOT RECOGNIZE Nanfan as a legitimate treaty nor acknowledge any Haudenosaunee land claims in this area.

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